“But you, O God, are my king from of old; you bring salvation upon the earth.”
Yesterday was my father-in-laws funeral. It was held in an Episcopal church. He was born into that church and baptized there as an infant. He discontinued his association with all churches as a teenager, and was later married in that same Episcopal church. He then disconnected himself from church life and a relationship with God for the next 66 years. During the funeral service, the priest explained her beliefs in the power of infant baptism and how even though Bob was contentious, difficult to love, and had not walked in the life of a Christian, he was going to be accepted into God’s Kingdom. In part, I think she spoke some of her remarks to my wife and me, because we told her that we were Mennonite’s.
I didn’t agree with her theology or her conclusions. I am not judging my father-in-law, because only God knows for sure where his heart was when he died. I am simply wondering how God is going to sort all this out. This priest believes that Bob was safe and saved, because of what was done for him 92-years ago. I would say, as a Mennonite, that salvation is a conscious choice that a person makes through adult reasoning and contact with the Holy Spirit. In his last weeks of life my wife, her mother, and I encouraged Bob to repent and turn his life over to Jesus. He resisted strongly. The priest talked to him, at my encouragement, and Bob later gave me the message that he was OK the way he was and I shouldn’t worry about him.
I will not get on a soap box and say that the Mennonites are the only part of the Body of Christ that is getting it right. Is God going to have multiple standards? I can’t believe that a person who devotedly follows every teaching of a church that uses infant baptism will be penalized or condemned. Yet through my reading of the Bible I find no plausible support for the practice. So, Lord Jesus, what’s this all about?
I am coming to the conclusion that it is God who calls people into relationship with Him. Some are called as Episcopalians, some as Lutherans, and some as Anabaptists. I don’t understand how this can be, yet I clearly feel the strong hand of God placing my family into the Mennonite community of believers. After the funeral service, I had a conversation with the priest. She was originally ordained as a Lutheran pastor and served in a strongly Mennonite part of Saskatchewan, Canada. She spoke highly of the Mennonites that lived in her community. I asked her how it was that she became an Episcopal priest. She said that she developed a love for the liturgy and The Book of Common Prayer, and that God ultimately called her to make the change. I may not be able to support the theology of other denominations, but I also cannot deny the fact that God is still at work in them.
I know that there are many individual church congregations that have been deceived and follow the anti-christ spirit, and others who live by legalistic rules alone. I also know that I have found people who I respect and have learned from in every denomination. I experience the joy of spirit filled brothers and sisters from all denominations, especially when we gather to pray together for the Holy Spirit to fall upon our region and bring revival into all the churches.
Still, I wonder about our differences.
Lord Jesus, I think it is clear that your church has not yet been cleansed to the point where she is ready to be your bride. I don’t know what it will take for this to happen. I simply pray that you will show me how I can help bring unity to the Body of Christ. I am thankful that you have called us into the Mennonite Church, because, like the priest and her love for the Episcopal Church, I have an unexplainable love for You as You are revealing yourself in Anabaptist theology. Lord help me honor the love I have for you and for the church that you have called me into. Show me how to honor the rest of the Body of Christ as well. Amen